ASK FATHER: Eucharistic Prayer for Masses with Children

From a reader…


This morning at Sunday Mass our priest sang the Eucharistic prayer for children’s liturgy and there was piano throughout as well as sung responses. I have never heard such a thing. It confused my small children. Is this ordeal approved by the Church?

I have never used them.  I will never use them.

But let’s, for just a moment, assume that there might be a good reason for why they exist.

Begin moment:

The Eucharistic prayers for Masses with Children should only be used when the overwhelming percentage of the congregation is, indeed, children.

End moment.

They should be immediately relegated to the dustbin of liturgical history. They are condescending, trite, and non-traditional.

The Body of Christ should not be segregated by ages. Why don’t they have Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with the Elderly, replete with interspersed acclamations of “Get off my lawn!!” and “Where are my glasses?”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr AJ says:

    These EP’s for children are not in the new Roman Missal. I’m wondering what their status is right now? The only way to use them is to dig out the previous Missal.

  2. un-ionized says:

    Fr. AJ I “read somewhere” (there’s that phrase again) that they were dispensed with and would now be considered illicit. I don’t recall the source, unfortunately.

  3. skip67 says:

    Why don’t they have Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with the Elderly, replete with interspersed acclamations of “Get off my lawn!!” and “Where are my glasses?”
    Hey, I resemble that remark!

  4. KatieL56 says:

    Considering the state of catechesis in the past few decades, and assuming these are licit, perhaps the priest is trying to start ‘from the ground floor’. If he feels that his congregation is understanding the Faith (as adults) at approximately the level of small children, he might feel that this will ‘make sense’ to them. In that case, after a few weeks he might move on to a (spoken) Eucharistic Prayer II, work on that for a few months, try to intersperse Prayer III, and in a few years give the now more grounded folks the ‘meat’ of the Roman Canon/Prayer I, after nourishing them on this ‘milk’.

    If however he follows this ‘feast’ by adding to it such delights as ‘renewing the Baptismal Promises in lieu of the Creed, the “our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name” (clap clap), and changing the word “Father” everywhere to “Daddums”, then this might be a problem.

  5. un-ionized says:

    I found this from Zenit on EWTN. I lack the computer skills to make it look nice:

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I don’t understand the point of these, nor of a “children’s lectionary”. I am not a traditionalist, but long before the Second Vatican Council (which did not call for these children’s texts, by the way) children managed just fine with Mass in Latin.

    The Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children do exist in Latin. How about using those?!

  7. DavidJ says:

    There are times you make things simpler so that children can understand. Liturgy is not one of them.

  8. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Sometimes “simpler” changes the message, no?

  9. Facta Non Verba says:

    I remember these special Eucharistic prayers when I was in Catholic grade school in the late 70’s. I also remember thinking to myself that the priest must think we are stupid, since he needs to substitute the word “friends” for disciples (for example). Much to my dismay, a few years ago, when I had to go to a different parish for Mass, the elderly priest used one of these same Eucharistic prayers for children (I think it was the same one from the late 70’s) at a Sunday Mass, in which almost everyone at the Mass was over the age of 50 and the vast majority were over the age of 70. There weren’t many people at that Mass; that parish is currently in jeopardy of being closed for lack of parishioners; and I suspect I know why.

  10. Dan says:

    Unfortunately attempts at making things simpler have only succeeded in makin is simple.

    Of course I am sure that is what satan has had in mind all along.
    Step 1. Destroy the intellect. Check done
    Step 2. Destroys reality. Check done what bathroom do I use now?
    Step 3 mission accomplished no more truth.

  11. bombcar says:

    The LMS Chairman posted on these kinds of things:

    Quite worth the read.

  12. Jim Dorchak says:

    My wife and I were talking about Mass this past Sunday, Novos Ordo, here in Chile, and how child like and overwhelmingly simple it is. Of course the Mass is Liberation Theology based, as there is no other type here in Chile outside Santiago, but why does it need to be so stupid?
    Veni Spiritu Sancto, Veni Spirtu Sancto, over and over and over through out the Mass. The Gloria is simply the word “Gloria” sung over and over and over with out meaning or significance.
    To my wife and I the NO in latin America “is” the childrens Mass, because Latinos don’t know any LATIN!
    It is just stupid. Gross. Ugly and somewhat a waste of time. Nothing holy about this type Mass.
    It is VALID and nasty all at the same time!

  13. haydn seeker says:

    Man, I can’t stand these. My children can concentrate through the Eucharistic prayer. My 3 year old has blown me away by teaching herself the Lord’s Prayer simply by listening to it at mass. She can handle a Eucharistic Prayer. What my children can’t sit through are the long, rambling, boring parish notices. Funny how nobody wants to cut them back.

    Personally, my childhood memory of mass in the 80s was that during the Eucharistic Prayer the priest would drop his voice and the organist would improvise until the elevation. I thought that something important was happening, it made the mass feel big. My children must think this cutdown version makes the mass feel very small.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    I prefer using the ICEL 1998 version of EP2 as it seems better and richer than any of the current prayers for Children.

  15. surritter says:

    Putting aside the children’s aspect of this discussion, it is never permitted for the musician to play along with the priest during the Eucharistic Prayer. It can certainly be sung by the priest, but without accompaniment.

  16. Kathleen10 says:

    As long as we’re crabbing, I never liked and now like even less the Masses “devoted” to a particular group, the Healthcare Worker’s Mass, the Firefighters Mass, the Secretary’s Mass, the Silver and Gold Masses for people who got married in 1920, the Mass for those who don’t have matching socks, all these Masses for particular groups. Why do we need gimmicks! Or maybe I’m looking at that wrong, I don’t know. Related to that, Masses for particular ethnic groups. Divisive! We should all be at the Holy Mass where we all understand and use Latin. Why doesn’t E Pluribus Unum apply…”out of many, one”.

  17. MrsMacD says:

    haydn seeker your comment reminds me that, over the years, my 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 year old boys have known all the prayers of the traditional Mass at various ages and stages and were/are able to play/replicate all the gestures acurately, and know all the words by heart.

    Children learn most vocabulary by the time they’re three! For goodness sake, speak proper English to children! Demand that they speak properly! Children are capable of contemplation. Help them by giving them something stirring to contemplate!

    [I was memorizing Shakespeare at 7. This is not rocket science. If you set low standards, children will live down to them.]

  18. Poor Yorek says:

    Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P. says in a wonderful Epiphany homily that “Children ask nothing but theological questions,” (i.e. because they ask “why.”). The homily is well worth listening to in its entirety starting at around the 9:00 mark.

    Children’s intellects manifest the Natural Desire to know: and whilst their minds develop and mature over time, they are very quick to pick up on and are dissatisfied when adults dumb down or make things up in order to cover their own ignorance (c.f. some classic “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoons).

  19. Imrahil says:

    Children, by my (granted: limited) experience, are the most fervent haters of anything condescending to children and anything childish. By coincidence, they are the most fervent users of the word “childish”.

    Who such language actually aims at, whether the designers know it or not, are the well-meaning parents who are gratified by a language neither theirs nor their children’s, only because it allows them to think all is done to please their sweet darlings. (So naturally, usually they plus innocent bystanders that want to fulfill their Sunday duty are usually the majority.)

    When you can show me boys playing at soldiers that, by their own initiative, have replaced the Salute (which they may have seen somewhere) by the Hug to make it in an interpretative manner more understandable to themselves, I may overthink my attitude.

  20. momofmany says:

    Imrahil: Agreed! During one Mass the priest thought he would appeal to my 3yr. old son by speaking down to him. (There were very few people at this Mass.) Afterwards, as we left the chapel, my son announced loudly, “Mommy, THAT was a SILLY Mass.”

  21. Fr Sean Coyle says:

    The late Northern Ireland Unionist politician, James Molyneaux, an Anglican, wrote in The Daily Telegraph (London) in 2004 about a Mass in which he participated in Belsen just after its liberation.

    ‘The most moving experience came on the second morning as I was walking from what had been the luxury SS barracks which our troops had transformed into a hospital. My attention was drawn to two packing cases covered by a worn red curtain. A young Polish priest was clinging to this makeshift altar with one hand, while celebrating Mass. Between his feet lay the body of another priest who probably died during the night. No one had had the energy to move the body.

    ‘I had no difficulty in following the old Latin Mass, having been educated at St James’s Roman Catholic School in County Antrim, and, although an Anglican, I had gained a working knowledge of all the rituals. Still supporting himself against the altar, the young priest did his best to distribute the consecrated elements. Some recipients were able to stumble over the rough, scrubby heathland. Others crawled forward to receive the tokens and then crawled back to share them with others unable to move. Some almost certainly passed on to another – probably better – world before sunset. Whatever one’s race or religion one can only be uplifted and impressed by that truly remarkable proof of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.’

    He, a Northern Irish Anglican, knew the Latin Mass because he had gone to a Catholic school. The full article, which includes the wonderfully laconic statement, ‘By coincidence, we and Doenitz arrived in Flensberg on the same day. We had some difficulty in persuading the Grand Admiral that he was now unemployed’, is here:

    When I was a youngster my Dad often brought me to soccer games in Dublin. But he brought me to the ‘real thing’. There was no ‘children’s game’ for the kids to watch in a nearby park. You were proudly taking part in a community activity involving mostly adults and learning what it meant to be part of that community. It is interesting that in Ireland and other Western countries, the Liturgy of the Mass has been largely replaced in the lives of many by the ‘quasi-liturgies’ that takes place now on many sporting occasions, rituals that involve children in an appropriate way but in which they fully participate with adults throughout the whole event. No equivalent of a Eucharistic Prayer for Children or of a Liturgy of the Word for Children in a separate place. That would be unthinkable.

    I have used some of the Eucharistic Prayers for Children here in the Philippines but that was many years ago now and only very occasionally when most of those present were children. I’m not sure if they are used anywhere in the Philippines now.

  22. rbbadger says:

    There was a scripture scholar at my seminary who was said to have used the Eucharistic Prayers for children when celebrating Mass in the College Seminary. While I was not in the college when he was on the faculty, I would not put it past him.

  23. rbbadger says:

    I also regret to inform you that they still exist, though not in the Roman Missal. They have been retranslated in accordance with the norms of Liturgiam authenticam and exist in a separate booklet. My pastor has it. I refuse to use them when I celebrate Mass for the children.

    We have Mass with the students of the school quite regularly. The students serve as lectors and servers. The funny thing is that the student lectors are often better prepared and read more clearly than some of the adults.

    Also, we are trying to encourage good habits. The students do not hold hands during the Our Father.

  24. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    Something tells me that’s the whole point…

  25. Grant M says:

    At least they make a change from EP2, which I hear about 90% of the time. (Note to self: start keeping a record of EPs used on Sunday, to see if that’s accurate.)

    High school student wonders why mass can’t have depth beauty and mystery of Schroedinger wave equation…

  26. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Coyle: Great comment, thanks for the link.

  27. hwriggles4 says:

    As a teenager and young adult in the 1980s and 1990s, even though I was a clock in clock out Catholic, I found the Easter Sunday and Christmas liturgies where children came up and sat on the Altar with the priest to be a turnoff. Basically, this was entertainment to keep the kids focused, and some of the really young kids (i.e 5 and under), would chase each other around.

    In retrospect, the theory behind these Masses was to compete with the Protestant churches who seem to do better attracting the youth than Catholics.

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